WORLD War II and Vietnam veterans will be commemorated at a special service next week, marking the anniversary of two significant days in history.
Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day while Vietnam Veterans Day falls on Tuesday.
Mount Gambier veterans from both the Vietnam War and World War II will be honoured at a special service to be held at the city’s Soldiers Memorial on Tuesday.
Encouraging the community to come along to pay respects, Mount Gambier Community RSL president Bob Sandow expected it to be an emotional service.
“We will be holding the memorial service for Vietnam Veterans Day, which is what we do every year, but this year I will ask Member for Barker Tony Pasin and Mount Gambier mayor Lynette Martin to speak at the conclusion of the service about World War II,” he said.
“It is a great opportunity for the community to pay respects because Anzac Day was obviously different this year and we do not know what impact COVID-19 will have on Remembrance Day, so we would urge people to come along next week.”
Surviving World War II veterans Charlie Miller, Jack Hopgood and Kelvin Smibert have become synonymous with these events in Mount Gambier and Mr Sandow highlighted how lucky we are to have them.
Victory over Japan Day recognises the initial announcement of Japan’s surrender in World War II on August 15, 1945.
“The day is obviously going to bring back memories for them, but it is really important to recognise the event and our veterans who served.”
“After all they went through, to still be alive in their late 90s and Jack, 100, is just staggering, it is a credit to their resilience and character.”
Vietnam Veterans Day also holds a special significance for a number of Mount Gambier families, including Mr Sandow’s and he said it is a day to remember the impact the war had on our country.
The day marks the anniversary of the battle of Long Tan, which occurred on the afternoon of August 18, 1966, just two months after the 1st Australian Task Force established its base at Nui Dat in the heart of Phuoc Tuy province in South Vietnam.
The anniversary has since commemorated all Australians who took part in the Vietnam War.
“There’s a saying ‘not everyone who came home from Vietnam ever left there’ and I think that is very true,” he said.
“It was our longest war until Afghanistan came along and it left a huge mark on a number of Australian families in one way or another.”
The Vietnam Veterans Day is open to the public and will start at 4pm at the Soldiers Memorial in the Vansittart Park Gardens.
The community is reminded to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines if they attend the service.